So here you are. Desperate and sick. A nearly silent screech sneaks past your tongue, which tastes like salt pork and gasoline.
It's day 999. Your eyes are all screwed up, red and dry. A list of cryptocurrencies is displayed on your over-sized monitor. It's the third website you've perused in as many minutes.
Your head is empty. Your back as hard as granite. A clandestine world full of free-thinking Fintech groupies are eager to abscond with your money the moment it hits their block-chain traps.
As soon as you hit the enter button. Blue letters glow. Press enter. You can do it. Just press the enter button already.
You must buy! You must mine! You must trade! You must be crazy!
Click. You pressed enter. Another thousand dollars gets chained in the block.
Your throat constricts a little. What did I do? you think. But at the same moment, relief washes over you. You have committed. You are a man of action!
And you are the world's first rational idiot.
You are cheering your favorite block-chain trap and wondering why it just sits there and hunts you all the same. One week it's up a million or a billion in value, like a wheel barrow full of simulated silver bars. The next week, it's down two, then four -- then the block-chain forks.
You money evaporates. Dammit all again. Those hackers! Those thieves!
The days have become weeks and now you are into this thing for a year, and then some. Two years, then almost three. Trap after trap. Dummy.
Day 999. You are no longer your own friend. You don't recognize the soulless noob behind your eyes. That's not you in the mirror. It is an enemy. An unshaven fool with wino-eyes.
An anchor defines your thoughts. A weight that hooks you to this computer. These cryptocurrencies. A bare taut smile cracks your face. It's a farce. There is no humor here. Only pain.
And now you must fight back. If not for yourself, then for them. Your family. You have exhausted them with the blunted words. Tears need to dry.
Your password book is full. Too many web wallets. Margins of passwords. Ridiculously long seed words, which you thought were sophisticated back then. Last year. Or the year before. It's a red tinted blur now.
Too many exchanges. Landing your crypto-plane and just as quickly, taking off again. Ever looking for that perfect runway. That lantern swinging in the night. That little voice in your head. Something to let you know that you are not the native being given "fire water" and fool's gold.
And that is exactly it. You are that Eskimo. Drunk in the street. Cold. Nearly frozen. Broke.
Download and delete. Mining equipment gathering dust on your shelves. Toss them.
The cryptocurrency roller-coaster. A Ferris Wheel, where you always wind up where you started -- at the bottom. Next to the smiling bronze skinned operator, with dirt streaked forearms, who collects your ticket, spits a brown viscous substance into a paper cup, which he has more often missed; and who is pulling levers whilst eyeing the varsity cheerleaders, who just happen to be giggling in next basket up, but whose skirts are eye level to the grinning operator.
You're out now. The Ferris Wheel ride is over, again. Breathe.
You shuffle down the rusted stairs, littered with handbill advertisements of other fantastic altcoin rides, now discarded in a flurry of haste. You see the Ferris Wheel for what it really is. A decaying relic. It wobbles on is great steel feet. "Klack - Klack!" The wheel spins anew. Riders laugh.
It hits you then -- almost. It's right there in the back of your grown-up brain. You know it is. You can almost feel the psychic debris of it. Something is wrong and it's probably you. But how to see it. That is the quandary. Belly up to your mental pulpit. And there it is, as you can imagine it, in the carnival of your cranium.
The crowd has evaporated now. Into the Stygian pits. Gurgling muck flows around brimstone grave markers. The graves open and dark. They are lined up at the bottom of the stairs of that Ferris Wheel Kingdom. From the shadowy holes cryptocurrencies emerge as if they have form. All vying for your immediate attention and your hard earned money. They slither as one vermin, through a small window, into a ticket booth.
You note the cracked and battered sign over the perturbed face of the ticket seller. A middle aged women, sweet and easy on the eyes. The sign reads "The Exchanges," but underneath the letters you can just make out another word: "Bookie." She smiles toothless. Stubs out a cigarette. Lets the vermin at her feet wrap around her legs and squeeze.
There are the crowds. You see them now. All jostling about. They are like you. Not yet rich. More crowds press themselves into the lines and gaggles. They chatter about the red rolls of tickets. An unabated volume from fevered lips. Drooling.
As fast as the ticket seller can unroll and unwind the tickets, as if by magic, more appear. Into the waiting spools the tickets go. A roar of approval from the happy army is joined by the laughing of those clamoring and packing the waiting areas.
"Choose your ride!" bellows the fat man. "Tickets please!" The Ferris Wheel, roller-coaster and all the rest of the altcoin hells await your cash.
The shriek of the ticket seller continues. "Buy your tickets! Buy your tickets here!" She repeats. And repeats. Then she wipes her pasty mouth. Fresh bits of popcorn and peanut shells decorate her illusory figure. She brings out new rolls of tickets for even better and more fantastic rides. New and old and improved cryptocurrency-carnival rides.
"Come one! Come all!" She dances in her booth. Droves crowd around. Salivation and salvation promised.
The Ferris Wheel begins again. "Be ready, my joyful purchasers!" The operator pulls a lever. The sound of silence, as nothing seems to happen. "Is that Bitcoin?" someone asks, pointing a crooked finger.
"And now..." The operator waves toward the great Ferris Wheel which has become shrouded in a gray cloud.
And then it all morphs. Pale shadows turn scarlet. The gray cloud marches away. The Ferris Wheel has changed into a Royal Frigate or some mis-measurement thereof, rollicking on its mighty cradle, as if upon the high seas, complete with simulated foam, giant rubber octopi, blurry eyed mega clams and the fins of hidden sharks waiting below.
The army of ticket buyers surrounds the woman's booth again. Cocking heads are awestruck. "The Frigate Ride, the Frigate Ride!"
The merry crowds are beside themselves. Small children are roughly treated.
"This is an adult ride," one man yells at a cowering school brat, sticky hands fondling his pink fluff of cotton candy.
The ticket seller brings out the white tickets now. "These are 10 times the price, but well worth it..." Fists of cash appear. Tickets disappear. Crowds circle the Frigate Ride soon after, waiting.
Meanwhile, the riders, stuffed in like sheep, sing and wave their arms high in the Royal Frigate ride. Denuded hands, empty of tickets and in desperate requirement of more. The ride shudders, but the blaring music drowns the protestations of the failing equipment.
Below the Royal Frigate, a collection of operators, gathering and counting their shillings piled in waist high mounds, hand the helpers bundles of gratitude, smudged liberally with stains of tar. Off the helpers go to create other rides at the urging of the operators.
"Make them magical!" the operators scream after the helpers. "The cryptocurrency ride to beat all. Secret and saucy. Spicy and grotesque. Even purple, if need be. The flashier the better!"
And that's how it is with cryptocurrency rides, so you move onto the Midway, where you can be fleeced in absolute honesty. It's like a carnival, within itself. Integrity? To hell with that.
You wonder when and if you will win the fluffy stuffed-pony or even a doggy. They're sitting there in front of all those pretty bottles, begging to be adopted. All you need to do is successfully toss one ring onto one of those colored bottles. But you miss time and again. Your kid starts to cry.
That darned ring bounces a tenth time, teases you for a split of a second, as you clench your fists, ready to jab your palm into the face of the globular tank-topped bald guy with the waxed mustache and clown shoes; and demand your just reward. But it all goes awry, each time, as that maple-wood ring skitters along, taking its time, as if to punctuate your ignorance, confident that your place in heaven was previously assured, as it rolls ungracefully, over the edge of the table -- which is impossibly full of bottles.
Even children can do this; you say to yourself. But not you. Never you. Perhaps those old wine bottles are rigged, you think. The whole game is rigged! The bald guy with the clown shoes drops his eyes at your knowing pause. You will buy no more rings today. No more tickets. No more rides! You will not!
Your kid asks. "No, it's a scam," you tell him.
You know that repetition can lead to habit. Tomorrow, you may not come to this carnival at all. A vow is working its way into your beaver hat. Your sweat, cold as an alcohol mist, chills your unconfirmed commitment. You must leave this fantasy, parch yourself of cryptocurrencies. But can you?
You are just not cut out for this crypto-market frolic, especially when it comes to Bitcoin and the Lord Jesus. Maybe if you spent more time on your knees begging for wealth or opened those darned fortune cookies at the Chinese Buffet or even just stopped going to the "cryptocurrency" carnival every day of your miserable existence, then maybe you'd be happier. Certainly, you'd be less afflicted and exhausted.
You wonder if you have a gambling problem -- again. And the fact that you asked yourself this question on a Wednesday, while deferring discipline in the smartness of an alcoholic beverage, before noon, local time, makes you wonder if retirement income is a good thing to hand over to the block-chain privateers.
Perhaps you should shave and bathe, before the wife returns from the grocery store and asks you why you have not sealed the hole in the soffit where the wasps have begun their newest assault upon the back bedroom, after having become too cozy within the buzzing walls.
Then, as of this moment, you seethe with anger at your deceased parents for having brought you to this cursed land of wasps and gambling five decades earlier. You definitely need another drink to humble your tragically constructed lies.
On the way to the fridge you see the yard though the front door. A door that needs to be painted again. The grass is already halfway to another mow after two days in this Florida grow house.
Wasps, grass, weeds and -- crap, you forgot to walk the dog. The cat talks to you, but you tell him to shut up and that his bowl is still half-full and he won't get any more until later; and you remind him again, to stop eating the dog's food.
Both animals follow you back up the stairs, as your sit behind your dusty desk, on a seat cushion that has no business comforting your ample bulk, since it failed at this duty some months previously -- after repeated engagements.
Then, in a flurry of clear deviltry, brought on no doubt, by the clarity of the grape, you wonder if a particular ripple of thought really does hold a modicum of promise. But no, maybe you need to dash outside and mow the lawn.
Stony of face, you doubt your grasp of Fintech in general, but all logic aside, the cattle at the carnival can't compare to a desktop gambler, which was you, along with your well warmed jug of Malbec.
Pickled or not, the choice to rise above your ardent fervor, awake from your post midday rest, will certify your courage and dispel the rumor that you sat on your compressed rump all day.
You are, after all, a work of art. A stooped statue on your chair. A Man and his Mouse, you will name it. A living man of flesh and stone, complete with ceiling fan, in order to keep the dust from your balding silvery pate.
And there lay your consternation for the next minutes. Before you stand in line, once again, at the carnival of discontent, confessing your love of innovation and praising the goddess of Fintech.
You give a longing glance to cryptocurrency. "This is it," you say. Your last choice. Your last purchase. No others -- unless a better one comes along. But you'd just as soon move to Nova Scotia than raise the white flag.
As intoxicating as it was, the realism of the world, where rainbows never touch the ground and jingle with gold, the cruel sunlight again surprises you. Where have you been for 999 days? The world awaits.
Between wasps and grass. Blurred and sharpened by the wine of docility. Fooled by the bum-boats, after weeks of bad food, missing sleep, your mind -- and money -- sought a new-old harbor. Perhaps it is and was a sentimental journey. A doorway to step through and back, after wiping your dirty shoes, flecked with carnival viscera, upon the well worn mat.
And here you are again. No hoard of invisible tokens to claim your dreams. The carnival, a pitiful memory. The headache, subsided. The guilt and shame managed, but the delirium forgiven.
Let the wretches of cryptocurrencies become the vessels of their own demise, save the one you picked.
© 2016 Jack Shorebird